Doctor Sleep (15)

Doctor Sleep posterDirector: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyleigh Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Emily Alyn Lind, Bruce Greenwood, Carl Lumbly, Alex Essoe, Zackary Momoh, Jacob Tremblay and Cliff Curtis

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Almost 40 years have passed since the Torrance family’s somewhat eventful stay in the Overlook Hotel, a place hiding dark secrets that eventually drove Danny’s (McGregor) father insane leaving Danny and his mother fighting for their lives as shown in 1980’s, The Shining.

With help from an old friend, telepathically talented Danny learns how to control his gift, or shine, and attempts to move on with his life. However, now an adult and still haunted by the terrors he managed to escape, a wandering and alcoholic Danny desperately seeks stability and finds solace in a peaceful town in New Hampshire. Here, he uses his abilities to provide comfort to those that need it most. When Abra (Curran), a young girl with the brightest shine in recent memory reaches out to him, he reluctantly faces his demons to help save her life. 

Abra’s gift leads them to Rose the Hat (Ferguson) and her travelling cult of seemingly immortal followers, known as The True Knot, all of which have unique powers. To stay healthy and live longer, they feed off the steam produced from the breath of dying children that are possessed with the shine, as they are slowly tortured to death. Hopefully you’ve realised by now that this is most definitely not a comedy.

Adapting legendary horror author Stephen King’s novel must have been daunting enough, but to also follow in the footsteps of none other than Stanley Kubrick and his revered cult classic probably gave him sleepless nights, but writer and director Mike Flanagan has successfully created his own masterpiece. With a keen eye for detail, the original is handled with the respect it deserves and certain moments are revisited using flashbacks or brought up to date with inspired casting.

In keeping with its predecessor, there are long aerial shots of lone cars driving to a pulsing, heavy on the horns, score provided by The Newton Brothers and events come full circle as the Overlook Hotel is revisited, and recreated, with an unnerving authenticity.

Newcomer Kyliegh Curran more than holds her own against the established veterans surrounding her and has an incredibly promising cinematic future should she chose to pursue it. Rebecca Ferguson revels in her malevolence, even if her Irish accent slips every now and then, and is utterly terrifying in what is surely a career best performance. Ewan McGregor is as watchable as ever, but is slightly overshadowed by the two girls who arguably have the more interesting journey. Also worth mentioning is Zahn McClarnon as Crow Daddy, Rose’s lieutenant, who oozes menace with his unsettling devotion.

One slight issue is the convenient negligence of more than one parent allowing their young child to wander off, or walk home alone, and checking in at a whopping 151 minutes, it probably could’ve lost some of that in the editing suite, but that doesn’t mean what’s on screen isn’t worth watching.

Featuring some deeply disturbing scenes, Doctor Sleep isn’t for the faint hearted. It doesn’t shy away from the subject matter and occasionally makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing. A strong follow-up to The Shining, Mike Flanagan’s film shows its appreciation to what came before and he has magnificently produced his very own hauntingly atmospheric horror.

Doctor Sleep ghosts into UK cinemas on 31st October.

Film Review

Ben Peyton View All →

Film reviewer for Time and Leisure Magazine, The Movie Waffler and We Are Cult.
Former actor (a regular in The Bill) and voiceover artist with Rhubarb Voices.

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